HotFreeBooks.com
The Children's Bible
by Henry A. Sherman
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

JESUS FEEDS THE HUNGRY

When Herod the ruler of Galilee heard what Jesus was doing, he was greatly puzzled, for some said that John had come back from the dead, some that Elijah had appeared, and others that one of the old prophets had come to life again. Herod said, "I have beheaded John; but who is this of whom I hear these stories?" And he tried to find him.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Come by yourselves to some quiet place and rest a while"; for so many people were coming and going that the disciples could not find time even to eat. So they went in a boat by themselves to a quiet place; but many people saw and knew them as they went, and, running from all the towns, they arrived before them. When Jesus landed he found a large crowd waiting for him. Feeling sorry for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, he began to teach them many things.

As it was already late in the day, his disciples came to him and said, "This place is far away from any town and it is now late. Send the people away to the neighboring farms and villages to buy food for themselves." But he answered "Give them some food." They replied, "Are we to go and buy two hundred silver pieces' worth of food for them?" He said, "Go and see how many loaves you have." When they found out, they said, "Five, and two fishes." Then he commanded them to make the people sit down in groups on the green grass.

So they sat down in companies of a hundred and of fifty. Then Jesus took the five loaves and the two fishes, and, looking up to heaven, he blessed the loaves, and broke them in pieces; and he gave to the disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fishes among them, and all ate and had enough. Then they picked up twelve baskets full of broken pieces of the bread and fish, although the number of the people who had shared them was five thousand.

Then Jesus had his disciples enter the boat and cross before him to Bethsaida, while he himself sent away the crowd. After sending them away, he climbed a hill to pray. When evening came the boat was in the middle of the sea and he alone on the land. Seeing that they were having trouble as they rowed, for the wind was against them, he went to them at about three o'clock in the early morning, walking on the sea as if he intended to pass them. When they saw him walking on the sea, they believed that he was a ghost and cried out, for all saw him and were frightened; but he spoke to them at once, saying, "Have courage, it is I; do not be afraid." Then he went on board the boat and the wind dropped, but they were greatly astonished for they had not learned the lesson of the loaves, for they were slow to understand its meaning.

After crossing the sea they landed at Gennesaret and fastened the boat. As soon as they had gone ashore, the people knew Jesus and searched all that part of the country, and whenever they heard that he had come to a certain place, they brought to him the sick on their beds. In every city or town or village to which he went people would lay their sick in the market-place and beg him to let them touch even the edge of his robe. And all who touched him were made well.

JESUS TELLS WHAT IT MEANS TO BE CLEAN

The Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem went together to Jesus, because they had seen that some of his disciples ate their food without washing their hands as the scribes thought necessary. For the Pharisees and all the Jews always wash their hands up to the wrists before eating. So the Pharisees and scribes asked him, "Why do not your disciples obey the old custom instead of eating food with unwashed hands?" Jesus said to them, "Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites: 'This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is not with me; their worship is worthless, for they teach what are only commands of men.' You set aside the command of God and follow that of men.

"Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother,' and, 'He who speaks evil of father or mother shall die.' But you say, 'If a man says to his father or to his mother, What you were to have received from me is given to God,' you hold that he need not do anything for his father or mother. In this way you set aside the command of God in favor of the teaching which you have handed down; and you do many other things like that."

Then calling the crowd to him again, he said to them, "Hear me, all of you, and understand. Nothing can make a man unclean by going into him from outside. It is what comes from him that makes him unclean, for from within, from the heart of man, come evil thoughts, acts of theft, murder, greed, wickedness, deceit, impure thoughts, envy, slander, pride, and recklessness. All these evil things come from within, and they make a man unclean."



JESUS IS KIND TO A STRANGER

Certain Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, "Go away from here; for Herod wishes to kill you." He said to them, "Go and tell that fox, 'See, I cast out evil spirits and cure the sick to-day and to-morrow, but on the third day I must go on my way; for it cannot be that a prophet will be put to death anywhere except in Jerusalem.'"

Jesus left Capernaum and went into the land of Tyre and Sidon. Going into a house, he wished that no one should know that he was there, but he could not escape notice. Soon a woman whose little daughter had an evil spirit heard of him and came and knelt at his feet. Now the woman was a heathen of the Phoenician race. She begged him to drive the evil spirit out of her daughter, but he said to her, "Let the children of Israel first be fed, for it is not fair to take their bread and throw it to the dogs!" She answered him, "True, sir, yet the little dogs under the table do eat the children's crumbs." He said to her, "Because of this answer go to your home; the evil spirit has gone out of your daughter." On returning home she found the child lying on the bed and the evil spirit gone from her.

Jesus again left the land of Tyre and passed through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, crossing the land of Decapolis. The people brought to him a deaf man, who also stammered; and they begged Jesus to lay his hand on him.

Jesus took the man away from the crowd, put his fingers into the man's ears, touched his tongue with saliva, and looking up to heaven, sighed, and said to him, "Ephphatha" (which means "Open"). And at once, the man could hear and could talk without stammering.

Then Jesus told them to tell no one, but in spite of what he said the people kept telling about it, saying: "How well he has done everything! He even makes the deaf hear, and the dumb speak."

JESUS MAKES AN HEROIC CHOICE

On their way to the villages of Caesarea Philippi Jesus asked his disciples, "Who do people say I am?" They told him, "John the Baptist; others say, 'Elijah'; some say, 'One of the prophets.'" Then he said to them, "But you yourselves, who do you say that I am?" Peter answered him, "You are the Christ." But he strictly charged them to tell no one that he was the Christ.

Then Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and high priests and scribes and be killed, but that after three days he would rise from the dead. This he said openly; and Peter tried to reprove him. But Jesus turned and, looking upon his disciples, reproved Peter, saying, "Away with you, Satan, for your mind is not on the things of God but of men."

Then Jesus called the crowd and his disciples to him, and said to them, "If any one wishes to follow me, let him forget himself, take up his cross, and come with me. For any one who is thinking only of saving his life, will lose it; but whoever loses his life for my sake and for the sake of the good news, will save it. What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul? For what could a man give in exchange for his soul? Whoever is ashamed of me and my teachings in this sinful world, of him I will be ashamed when I come in the glory of my Father with the holy angels."

JESUS IS GLORIFIED

Six days later Jesus took Peter, James and John up a high mountain where they were alone, and in their presence he was transfigured. His clothes glistened with a dazzling whiteness such as no bleaching could give on earth. And there appeared to them Elijah and Moses, who talked with Jesus. Then Peter said, "Master, it is fortunate that we are here. Let us make three tabernacles, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." (For in his terror he did not know what to say.) Then a cloud came and overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my Beloved Son; give heed to him." And suddenly, looking around, they saw no one with them but Jesus.

As they came down from the mountain, he commanded them to tell no one what they had seen until after he had risen from the dead. And they obeyed the command but discussed among themselves what "rising from the dead" meant. Therefore they asked him, "How is it that the scribes say, 'Elijah must first come'?" He answered, "Elijah is to come first to restore everything. And what is written about the Son of Man? Is it not that he is to endure great suffering and be despised? But I tell you, Elijah has come, and they have done to him what they pleased, even as it is written of him."

JESUS TELLS HOW ONE MAY BECOME GREAT

Leaving Caesarea Philippi, Jesus and his disciples passed through Galilee; but he wished no one to know of this, for he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, "The Son of Man will be betrayed and men will put him to death, but in three days he will rise from the dead." But they did not understand his meaning and were afraid to ask.

When they had reached Capernaum and were in the house, he asked them, "What were you arguing about on the way?" But they made no reply, for they had been disputing on the way about which of them was greatest. Sitting down, he called the twelve disciples, and said, "If any one wishes to be first, he will be last of all and servant of all." Then he took a little child and set him by his side and with his arm around him said to them, "Whoever receives a little child like this in my name, receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not only me, but God who sent me."

JESUS MAKES THE WICKED ZACCHEUS HIS FRIEND

As Jesus passed through Jericho a man named Zaccheus, who was the chief tax-gatherer and rich, tried to see what Jesus was like, but could not on account of the crowd and because he was short. So he ran ahead and climbed into a sycamore-tree to see Jesus, for he was to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, "Zaccheus, come down, for to-day I must stay at your house." And Zaccheus came down quickly and welcomed him joyfully.

Then all who saw this began to find fault, saying, "He has gone to eat with a man who is a sinner." But Zaccheus stood up and said to Jesus, "Lord, I will give half of all that I have to the poor; and to every man whom I have cheated out of anything I will give back four times as much." And Jesus said to him, "To-day salvation has come to this house, for you have proved yourself to be a true son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost."

JESUS IS GLADLY WELCOMED BY THE PEOPLE

As Jesus was leaving Jericho with his disciples, followed by a large crowd, there sat by the road a blind beggar, Bartimaeus (the son of Timaeus). When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he cried out, "Jesus, son of David, have pity on me!" Many reproved him, saying, "Keep still," but he cried out the more, "Son of David, have pity on me!" Jesus stopped and said, "Call him." So they called the blind man and said, "Have courage! Get up, he has sent for you." Throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Jesus said to him, "What do you want me to do for you?" The blind man answered, "Master, let me receive my sight." Then Jesus said to him, "Go your way, your faith has healed you." And at once he received his sight, and followed Jesus along the road.

When Jesus and those with him were drawing near to Jerusalem and had reached Bethpage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples ahead, saying, "Go into the village over there. As soon as you enter it, you will find a colt tied, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If any one asks you, 'Why are you doing that?' say, 'The Master needs it and will immediately send it back.'"

So they left him and found a colt tied, outside a door, on the street. As they untied it, some of the men standing there said, "What are you doing, untying the colt?" The disciples answered as Jesus had told them, and the men let them take it. When they had brought it to Jesus, they threw their cloaks upon it, and he mounted it. Many also spread their clothes on the road, while others strewed leafy branches cut from the fields; and people in front and behind kept shouting:

"God save him! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming Kingdom of our father David! God on high, save him!"

Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the Temple. And when he had looked about, because it was already late in the day, he went out to Bethany with his twelve disciples.

JESUS FIGHTS WRONG IN THE TEMPLE

About this time certain people came to tell Jesus of the Galileans whom Pilate had killed while they were offering sacrifices. He said to them, "Do you believe that these Galileans were worse sinners than the rest? No, I tell you; and unless you are sorry for your sins and do right, you too will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen men who were killed by the fall of the tower of Siloam—do you suppose that they were worse sinners than the rest of the people of Jerusalem? No, I tell you; and unless you are sorry for your sins and do right, you too will all perish."



Then Jesus went into the Temple, and drove out those who were buying and selling there. He upset the tables of the money-changers, and the seats of those who sold doves, and would allow no one to carry any goods through the Temple. For he said to them, "Is it not written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations'? But you have made it a den of robbers!" When the chief priests and scribes heard of it, they began to look for some way of putting him to death, for they feared him because all the people were deeply stirred by his teachings. But each evening he and his disciples left the city.

Then once more Jesus and his disciples entered Jerusalem, and as he was walking about the Temple, some high priests and scribes and elders came and asked him, "By what right are you doing these things, and who gave you this right?" Jesus answered, "I will ask you a question; answer me, and I will tell you by what right I do such things. What about John's baptism? Was it from God or from men? Answer me." They argued among themselves, saying, "If we answer, 'From God,' he will ask, 'Why then did you not believe in him?' But if we say, 'From men'"—they were afraid of the people, for the people believed that John was truly a prophet. So they answered Jesus, "We do not know." He said to them, "Then I will not tell you by what right I do these things.

"But give me your opinion. A man who had two sons went to one of them and said, 'Son, go and work in the vineyard to-day.' And the young man answered, 'I will not'; but afterward changed his mind and went. Then the man went with the same request to the other son, who said, 'I will go, sir'; but he did not go. Which of the two did as his father wished?" They answered, "The first." Jesus said to them, "I tell you that tax-gatherers and sinners will enter the Kingdom of God before you; for John showed you the way to an upright life, and you did not believe him. But the tax-gatherers and sinners believed him; and even when you saw, you would not say that you were wrong and believe in him.

"Listen to this: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, and set a hedge around it, dug a pit for the wine-press, and built a watch-tower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. At vintage time he sent his servants to the tenants to collect the fruits of the vineyard, but they took the servants and flogged one, stoned another, and killed another. Then he sent other servants, more than at first, but they did the same to these. Finally he sent his son, saying to himself, 'They will respect my son.' But the tenants said to one another, 'This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.' So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. Now, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to these tenants?" They said, "He will destroy the wretches and lease the vineyard to others who will give him the fruits in their season."

Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the scriptures:

"'The stone which the builders rejected Has been made the chief corner-stone; This is the Lord's doing, And marvellous in our sight.'"

When the high priests and the Pharisees heard these stories, they knew that he was speaking about them, and they wished to seize him but were afraid of the common people who regarded him as a prophet.

JESUS CONDEMNS THOSE WHO PRETEND TO BE GOOD

The common people were listening to Jesus eagerly. As he taught he said, "Be on your guard against the scribes, who like to walk about in long robes and to have the people bow to them in the market-places. They like to sit in the front seats in the synagogue and in the best places at feasts. These, who use up the property of widows and then to cover their guilt make long prayers, will receive the greater condemnation."

He also said, "Woe to you scribes! For you load men with burdens heavy to bear, which you yourselves do not touch with one of your fingers. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You shut in men's faces the door to the Kingdom of God; for you neither enter yourselves nor let those enter who wish to come in.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you carefully pay to the Temple the tenth part of what grows in your garden, but you do not show justice, mercy, and faithfulness. Blind guides, who strain out the gnat and swallow the camel!

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you make clean the outside of the cup and the plate, and then fill them with your greed and selfishness. Blind Pharisee! first make clean the inside of the cup, that the outside as well may become clean.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, beautiful outside, but inside full of dead men's bones and filth. So you yourselves appear upright, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and sin."

JESUS WARNS HIS DISCIPLES

As Jesus went out of the Temple, one of his disciples said to him, "Master, see what great stones and what a beautiful building!" Then Jesus answered, "This Temple, made by man's hands, shall be destroyed. But another will soon arise, made without hands." And as he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the Temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, "Tell us, when shall these things happen, and what is to be the sign to show when all these things are about to happen?" Jesus said to them, "No one knows the day or the hour when this will happen, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."

"The Kingdom of God shall be like ten maidens who took their torches and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. For the foolish ones, when they took their torches, took no oil with them; but the wise took oil in their vessels with their torches.

"Now while the bridegroom delayed, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight a cry was raised: 'Look! The bridegroom! Come out to meet him!' Then all those maidens rose, and trimmed their torches. And the foolish ones said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil; for our torches are going out.' But the wise maidens answered, 'There may not be enough for us and for you. Go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.' Now while they went away to buy, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut. Afterward the other maidens came also and said, 'Sir, open to us.' But he answered, 'I tell you truly, I do not know you.'

"Watch, therefore, for you do not know the day nor the hour when the Kingdom of God shall come."

JESUS CURES A BLIND MAN

As Jesus was passing along the road he saw a man who was born blind, and the disciples asked him, "Master, for whose sin, his own or his parents', was this man born blind?" Jesus answered, "Neither for his own sin nor his parents', but that God's power to heal may be shown in him. We must do the work of him who sent me while day lasts; night is coming when no man can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world."

When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva, put the clay on the eyes of the blind man, and said to him, "Go, wash in the Pool of Siloam." So he went off and washed, and returned able to see.

Then the neighbors and those who before had seen him begging said, "Is not this the man who used to sit and beg?" Some said, "It is he." Others said, "No, but he is like him." He said, "I am the man." So they said to him, "How then were your eyes opened?" He answered, "The man who is called Jesus made clay and put it upon my eyes, and said to me, 'Go to the Pool of Siloam and wash.' So I went away and washed, and I received my sight." They asked him, "Where is he?" He answered, "I do not know."

Then they brought the man who had once been blind to the Pharisees. Now it was on the Sabbath that Jesus had made the clay and opened his eyes. Therefore the Pharisees asked him again how he had received his sight, and he told them, "Jesus put clay on my eyes and I washed them and can see." Then some of the Pharisees said, "This man does not come from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath." Others said, "How can a sinner do such wonderful deeds of healing?" And they could not agree among themselves. So they asked the blind man once more, "What have you to say about him, for it was your eyes that he opened?" The man replied, "He is a prophet."

Now the Jews would not believe that he had been born blind and had received his sight until they called his parents and asked them, "Is this your son who you say was born blind? How is it that he now can see?" His parents answered them, "We know that this is our son and that he was born blind, but we do not know why he can now see nor who opened his eyes. He is of age; ask him, he can speak for himself." His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that any one who said that Jesus was the Christ should be put out of the synagogue. That was why his parents said, "He is of age, ask him."

So the Jews again called the man who had been born blind, and said to him, "Give God the praise; we know that this man Jesus is a sinner." He answered and said, "I do not know whether he is a sinner; one thing I do know, that, although I was blind, I now see." So they said to him, "What did he do to you? How did he give you your sight?" He replied, "I have told you already, but you would not listen to me. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also wish to become his disciples?" Then they reviled him and said, "You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God spoke to Moses, but we do not know where this man came from." The man answered, "This is strange! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he gave me my sight! We know that God does not listen to sinners but that he does listen to him who worships him and does his will. Since the world began no one has ever heard of sight being given to a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing." They answered, "You were born wholly bad, and yet you would teach us?" Then they put him out of the synagogue.

Jesus heard that they had put him out, and meeting him said, "Do you believe in the Son of God?" He answered, "Who is he, sir? Tell me that I may believe." Jesus said to him, "Not only have you seen him but he is now talking to you." The man said, "Then I do believe, Master," and he worshipped him, and Jesus said to him, "It is to right wrongs that I have come to this world, that the blind may see and that those who see may become blind." Hearing this, some of the Pharisees who were with him said, "And are we blind?" Jesus replied, "If you were blind you would not be guilty; but you say, 'We can see,' and so your sin remains."

JESUS TELLS WHAT HE CAME TO DO

Jesus said to the people, "I am the light of the world; he who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light which gives life."

As Jesus spoke these words many believed in him. Then he said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you faithfully do what I say, you are truly my disciples, and you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free." They answered him, "We are Abraham's descendants and have never been slaves to any man. What do you mean by saying, 'You shall be set free'?" Jesus answered them, "Truly, I tell you, every one who sins is a slave of sin. The slave does not remain in the household forever, but the Son remains forever. If therefore the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed.

"I am the Door; if any man enters by me he shall be saved and shall go in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

"I am the Good Shepherd; the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. But a hired man, who is not a shepherd and does not own the sheep, leaves them and runs away when he sees the wolf coming, and the wolf snatches the sheep and scatters them. The hired man runs away because he is only a hired man and does not care for the sheep.

"I am the Good Shepherd and know my own, and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father, and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep which do not belong to this fold; I must lead them also, and they will hear my voice, and they will be one flock and one shepherd."

JESUS BRINGS LAZARUS BACK TO LIFE

Now a certain man, Lazarus of Bethany, was sick. He was the brother of Martha and of the Mary who anointed the Master with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair. Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. So the sisters sent word to him, "Master, he whom you love is sick." But when Jesus heard it he said, "This sickness is not to end in death, but it is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified by it."

So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two days. After that he said to the disciples, "Let us go again into Judea. Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going to waken him." The disciples said to him, "Master, if he has fallen asleep he will get well." Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. So Jesus said to them plainly, "Lazarus is dead, and for your sakes I am glad that I was not there, so that you may learn to believe. But let us go to him."

When Jesus came he found that Lazarus had been in the tomb four days. Now Bethany was only about two miles from Jerusalem, and many of the Jews had come to comfort Mary and Martha about their brother.

When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, "Master, if you had been here my brother would not have died, but I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask him." Jesus said to her, "Your brother shall rise again." Martha said to him, "I know that he shall rise again, at the resurrection on the last day." Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me shall live even though he die; and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" She said to him, "Yes, Master, I do believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God who was to come into the world."

When Martha had said this she went away to call Mary, her sister, telling her secretly, "The Master is here and is calling you." When Mary heard this she rose quickly and went to him. Jesus had not yet come into the village but was still in the place where Martha met him. When the Jews who were trying to comfort Mary in the house saw her rise up quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to weep at the tomb. But when Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, "Master, if you had been here, my brother would not have died."

When Jesus saw her and the Jews who came with her weeping, he was deeply moved, and said in great distress, "Where have you laid him?" They said to him, "Master, come and see." Jesus wept. The Jews therefore said, "See how he loved him!" Some of them said, "Could not this man who gave sight to the blind have also kept Lazarus from dying?"

Jesus was again deeply moved, as he came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, "Take away the stone." Martha, the dead man's sister, said to him, "Master, by this time his body has begun to decay, for he has been dead four days." Jesus said to her, "Did I not tell you that if you only would believe you should see the glory of God?" So they removed the stone, and Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, "Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. I knew that thou always dost listen to me, but I spoke for the sake of the people standing near, that they may believe that thou hast sent me." When he had said this, he cried in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth." Then he who was dead came forth with his hands and feet wrapped in bandages and his face bound with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Untie him and let him go."

Then many of the Jews who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.

JESUS PRAISES A WOMAN WHO GAVE HER BEST

While Jesus was at dinner at Bethany in the house of Simon, the jar-maker, a woman came in with an alabaster jar of pure perfume, which was very costly. Breaking the jar she poured the perfume over his head. Some said to each other in indignation, "Why this waste of perfume? It might have been sold for more than three hundred silver pieces and the money given to the poor."

But because they found fault with her, Jesus said, "Let her alone, why do you trouble her? She has done me a beautiful service. The poor are with you always; to them you can do good whenever you wish, but me you will not always have. She has done what she could; she has poured oil on my body beforehand for burial. I tell you, wherever through all the world the good news is told, this deed of hers will be told in memory of her."

JESUS EATS THE LAST SUPPER WITH HIS DISCIPLES

Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples, went to the high priests with the intention of betraying Jesus. And when they heard, they rejoiced, promising to give him money; and he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when the Jews kill the lambs that are sacrificed at the Passover Feast, Jesus' disciples said to him, "Where do you wish us to make ready for your passover meal?"



So Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, "Go into the city, where you will meet a man carrying a jar of water. Follow him and say to the owner of whatever house he enters, 'The Master says, Where is my room in which I may eat the passover meal with my disciples?' He will show you a large upper room already furnished. There make ready for us." So the disciples went into the city and found things as he had said they would; and they prepared for the Passover.

When it was evening Jesus came with his twelve disciples; and while they were eating at the table, he said, "I know surely that one of you now eating with me will betray me." In deep sorrow the disciples said to him, one after the other, "Surely it is not I?" He said to them, "It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping his fingers into the dish with me. The Son of Man will depart as it has been foretold of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would be better for that man if he had never been born!"

Then Jesus took the bread and, when he had given thanks to God, he broke it and said, "This is my body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of me."

In the same way, after he had eaten, Jesus took the cup, and when he had given thanks to God, he gave it to his disciples and they drank of it. Then he said, "This is the new covenant made by my blood which is shed for many. As often as you drink this cup, do it in remembrance of me." Then after singing a hymn they went out to the Mount of Olives.

There Jesus said to them, "You will all desert me, for it is written in the scriptures: 'I will smite the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered.' But after I have risen, I will go before you into Galilee." Peter said to him, "Though all others should desert you, I will not." Jesus said to him, "Indeed I tell you, this very night before the cock crows you will deny three times that you know me." But Peter said more emphatically, "Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you." And all of them said the same.

JESUS ENCOURAGES HIS FRIENDS AND HELPERS

Jesus said, "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many homes; if it were not so, I would have told you, for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will return and take you to be with me that where I am, you may be also; and you know the way to the place where I am going."

Thomas said to him, "Master, we do not know where you are going; how then can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man comes to the Father except through me. If you had learned to know me, you would have known my Father also; from now on you know him and have seen him."

Philip said to him, "Master, let us see the Father and we will be satisfied." Jesus said to him, "Have I been all this time with you and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; then how can you say, 'Let us see the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me? The words that I speak do not come from me but from the Father who lives in me. Believe me, that I am in the Father and the Father in me, or else believe me because of the work itself. I say to you, he who believes in me will do the work which I do and still greater works than these, for I go to the Father. And whatever you shall ask in my name I will do, that the Father may be glorified through the Son. If you ask anything in my name, I will do it.

"If you love me you will keep my commands, and I shall ask the Father and he will give you another Helper to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth.

"In a little while the world will see me no more; but you shall see me, because I live and you shall live also. He who has my commands and obeys them is the one who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and will reveal myself to him.

"I have told you all this while I am still with you; but the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I have said to you.

"Peace I leave with you, my own peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled nor afraid. You have heard me tell you that I go away and am coming back to you. If you love me you will be glad because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I have told you this now, before it takes place, that when it does you may believe.

"I am the true vine and my Father is the vine-dresser. He cuts away each of my branches that does not bear fruit, and cleans every branch that bears fruit so as to make it bear more. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Remain united with me and I will remain with you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit unless it remains united with the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you remain united with me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who remains united with me and I with him bears much fruit, but apart from me you can do nothing.

"If you remain united with me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you will and you shall have it. It is by your bearing much fruit and being my true disciples that my Father is glorified. As the Father has loved me, so have I also loved you; continue in my love. If you keep my commands, you will continue in my love, even as I have kept my Father's commands and continue in his love.

"I have told you all this that my joy may be yours, and that your joy may be complete. This is my command: 'Love one another even as I have loved you.' No man has greater love than that which leads him to lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do whatever I command you. I call you servants no longer, for the servant does not know what his master does; but I call you friends, for I have told you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in my name he will give you."

JESUS IS SEIZED BY THE MOB

When Jesus and his disciples came to a certain place called Gethsemane, he said to them, "Sit here while I pray"; but he took with him Peter and James and John. And as he suffered greatly from deep sorrow, he said to them, "My heart is heavy with sadness. Stay here and watch." Then he went forward a short distance and threw himself on the ground and prayed that if possible he might be spared this agony, saying, "Father, with thee all things are possible. Take away this cup of agony from me. Yet not my will, but thy will be done."

When he came back, he found his disciples asleep; and he said to Peter, "Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch for one hour? Watch and pray that you may overcome temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the body is weak." Again he went away and prayed the same prayer. And when he returned, again he found them asleep, for they were very drowsy; and they did not know what to say to him. Then he came the third time and said to them, "Sleep on now and take your rest. It is enough; the hour has come; already the Son of Man has been betrayed into the hands of wicked men. Rise, let us go; for here is the one who has betrayed me."

While Jesus was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, came up, followed by a mob with swords and clubs, who had come from the high priests and the scribes and the elders. Judas had arranged a signal: "He whom I shall kiss," he said, "is the man. Take him, and lead him away without letting him escape." As soon as he came, he went up to Jesus, saying, "Master," and kissed him. Then they seized Jesus and took him; but one of those who were with him drew his sword, and, striking the servant of the high priest, cut off his ear. Jesus turned and said, "Have you come out with swords and clubs to seize me as you would a robber? Day after day I have been with you teaching in the Temple, yet you never seized me."

Then Jesus' disciples left him and fled. One young man, however, followed him with only a linen sheet thrown about him; but when the men tried to seize him, he left the linen sheet and fled away naked.

The mob led Jesus away and brought him to the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance, and when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, he too sat down among them. A certain maid, seeing him there by the firelight, looked at him closely and said, "This man also was with him." But he denied it, saying, "Woman, I do not know him." After a little while another person who saw Peter said, "You too are one of them"; but he said, "Man, I am not."

About an hour later another man said, "Certainly this fellow also was with Jesus, for he is a Galilean." But Peter said, "Man, I do not know what you are talking about." Immediately while he was still speaking, the cock crowed. And Jesus turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered how the Lord had said to him, "Before the cock crows to-day you will deny me three times." And Peter went out and wept bitterly.

JESUS IN THE HANDS OF HIS ENEMIES

The men who seized Jesus mocked him and flogged him. They also blindfolded him and said, "Prophet, tell us who is it that struck you?" And they said many other things, insulting him.

At daybreak they brought him before the council at which were gathered the elders, both the chief priests and the scribes. And they tried to get evidence against him to have him put to death, but could not find any, for though many made false statements, they did not agree. Some men stood up and falsely said, "We heard him say, 'I will destroy this temple made by the hands of men and within three days I will build another made without hands.'" But the statements even of these men did not agree.

Then the high priest arose and asked Jesus, "Do you not answer? What about these statements that these men make against you?" But he was silent and made no answer. And the high priest asked him, "Are you the Christ? If you are, tell us." He said to them, "If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I ask you questions, you will not answer me. But after this the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of God Almighty." Then they all said to him, "Are you then the Son of God?" He replied, "It is as you say; I am." So they said, "What further need have we of evidence? We have heard it from his own lips."

Then all the high priests and scribes rose and brought Jesus before Pilate, and began to accuse him, saying, "We found this man leading our people astray, forbidding them to pay taxes to the Roman emperor, and saying that he himself is Christ, the King." Pilate asked him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" He answered, "I am." Pilate said to the high priests and the crowd, "I do not find that this man has done anything wrong." But they insisted, saying, "He stirs up the people by teaching through all Judea. He began in Galilee, and now he has come even here." When Pilate heard this he asked whether Jesus was a Galilean, and when he learned that he was and that he came under Herod's rule, he sent him to Herod Antipas, who was also in Jerusalem at this time.

Herod was glad to see Jesus. He had long wished to see him because of what he had heard about him, and because he also hoped to see him do some wonderful deed. Although Herod asked him many questions, Jesus made no answer, and the high priests and the scribes loudly shouted their charges against him. Then Herod, and his soldiers, after mocking him, and dressing him in a bright colored robe, sent him back to Pilate.

Pilate then called together the high priests and other officials and the people, and said, "You brought me this man on the charge that he stirred up the people to rebel. Now I have examined him before you and found no guilt in him of those things of which you accuse him; no, nor has Herod, for he has sent him back to us. You see that he has done nothing that calls for death. I will therefore have him flogged and then release him" (for it was the custom at this feast to release for them one man). But they all cried out, "Away with him and release for us Barabbas" (a man who had been put into prison because of a riot which had occurred in the city, and on the charge of murder). Pilate spoke to them again, because he wished to release Jesus; but still they shouted, "Crucify him! Crucify him!" He said to them for the third time, "Why, what crime has this man committed? I have found no reason to put him to death. I will therefore have him flogged and then release him." But they shouted and demanded that he should be crucified. And so Pilate, wishing to please the people, released Barabbas, but Jesus he turned over to them to be crucified.

JESUS IS CRUCIFIED BY HIS ENEMIES

The soldiers led Jesus to the courtyard of the governor's palace and called together the whole company. Then they clothed him in a purple robe and, making a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and began to salute him, "Hail, King of the Jews!" They struck him on the head with a reed and spat on him, and on bended knee paid homage to him. After they had made sport of him, they stripped off the purple robe and put on his own clothes, and led him out to be crucified.

They forced a man named Simon, of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross. So they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha, which means, the place of the skull. And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he would not take it. Then they crucified him and divided his clothes among them, drawing lots to decide what each should take. It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. The inscription over his head stating the charge against him read:

THE KING OF THE JEWS

With him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left. And those who passed by scoffed at him, shaking their heads in derision and saying, "Ha! you who were to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself and come down from the cross!" In the same way the high priests and the scribes mocked him among themselves and said, "He saved others, but he cannot save himself. Let the Christ, the 'King of Israel,' now come down from the cross, that we may see and believe!" But Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

One of the criminals who was crucified also scoffed at him, saying, "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!" But the other said in rebuke, "Have you no fear of God even though you are being put to death? We are suffering justly, receiving what we deserve for our crimes, but he has done no wrong." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you enter your kingdom." Jesus said to him, "This very day you will be with me in paradise."

Now beside the cross of Jesus stood his mother. Seeing her and the disciple whom he loved standing near, Jesus said to her, "Woman, he is your son!" And to the disciple he said, "She is your mother!" And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

Darkness covered the whole land from noon until three o'clock in the afternoon. At that hour Jesus cried aloud, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani," which means, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" When they heard it, some who stood by, said, "He is calling Elijah." And a man ran and, soaking a sponge in vinegar, put it on the end of a reed and was about to give it to him to drink when the others said, "Stop, let us see if Elijah will come to take him down." But Jesus uttered a loud cry and gave up his life. And the curtain of the Temple was torn in two from the top to the bottom. When the Roman captain who stood facing him saw in what way he died, he said, "Surely this man was a son of God."

Looking on from a distance were some women also, among them Mary of Magdala, Mary the mother of James, the younger, and of Joses, and Salome, who had followed him and waited on him when he was in Galilee, and many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem.

Because it was now evening of the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathaea, an honorable member of the Jewish national council, who was himself looking for the coming of the Kingdom of God, went to Pilate and had the courage to ask him for the body of Jesus. Pilate, surprised that he was dead, called the captain and asked whether Jesus was already dead, and when he learned this from the captain he gave the body to Joseph. After Joseph had taken Jesus from the cross, he wrapped him in a linen sheet which he had bought, and laid him in a tomb cut out of rock; and he rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. And Mary of Magdala and Mary the mother of Joses, watched to see where Jesus was laid.

JESUS CONQUERS DEATH

When the Sabbath was over, Mary of Magdala, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices to embalm Jesus. Soon after sunrise on the first day of the week they went to the tomb, and they said to one another, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the door?" But they found that the stone, although very large, had been rolled to one side. On entering the tomb they saw a young man in a white robe sitting on the right, and they trembled and were afraid. But he said to them, "Do not be afraid. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen; he is not here. See the place where he was laid! But go and tell his disciples and Peter, 'He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you.'"

Then they remembered Jesus' words, and returning from the tomb they told these things to the eleven disciples and to all the others; but to them, the story seemed to be nonsense, and they were not believed. Peter, however, ran to the tomb, but when he looked in he saw only the linen bandages; and he went home wondering what had happened.

But Mary of Magdala stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she stooped down and looked into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said, "Because they have taken away my Master and I do not know where they have laid him!"

When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. "Woman," said he, "Why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?" Supposing that he was the gardener, she said, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away." Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned to him and cried out, "Master!" Jesus said, "Do not touch me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and tell them, 'I am ascending to my Father and to your Father, to my God and your God.'" Mary went to the disciples with the news, "I have seen the Master," and to tell them what he had said to her.

JESUS WALKS AND TALKS WITH TWO OF HIS DISCIPLES

On the same day two of Jesus' disciples were on their way to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem; and as they talked together about what had happened, Jesus himself drew near and went with them; but their eyes were kept from knowing him.

He said to them, "What are you talking about so earnestly as you walk along?" And they stood still, looking sad, and one of them, named Cleopas, answered, "Are you only a stranger stopping in Jerusalem? Do you not know the things that have happened there within these last few days?" He asked, "What things?" They answered, "Why, about Jesus of Nazareth, who proved himself a prophet, mighty in word and deed before God and all the people, and how our high priests and rulers gave him over to be sentenced to death and had him crucified. But we were hoping that he was the one to save Israel. It is now the third day since these things happened. Yet some of our women who were at the tomb early this morning, amazed us. They told us that they had not found his body but that they had seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Then some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it as the women had said. But him they did not see."

Then Jesus said to them, "O foolish men, so slow of heart to believe in what the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer and so win his glory?"

When they came to the village to which they were going, he seemed to be going farther on, but they urged him, saying, "Stay with us, for it is almost evening, the day is nearly over." So he went in to stay with them.

As he sat with them at table, he took the bread, blessed it, broke it, and passed it to them. Then their eyes were opened so that they knew him; but he disappeared from their sight. They said to one another, "Did not our hearts glow while he was talking with us on the way!"

At once they started back to Jerusalem, where they found the eleven disciples gathered with their companions, and from them they learned that the Lord had really risen and that he had appeared to Simon. Then they told of their own experience on the road, and how they knew him when he broke the bread.

JESUS GIVES HIS LAST COMMANDS TO HIS HELPERS

While the two disciples were speaking, Jesus himself stood among them. And they were frightened and believed that they saw a ghost; but he said to them, "Why are you so frightened? Why do you doubt? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, for a ghost has not flesh and bones as you see that I have." While they were still unable for very joy and wonder to believe, he said to them, "Have you anything to eat here?" And when they gave him a piece of broiled fish, he ate before them.

Then he said to them, "This is what I told you when I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled." Then he helped them to understand the scriptures, and said, "It is written that the Christ must suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that in his name all nations must be called upon to turn from their sins and gain God's forgiveness. You yourselves, beginning at Jerusalem, are to tell men about these things."

Now Thomas, one of the twelve disciples, who was called "The Twin," was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples told him, "We have seen the Master." But he said to them, "Unless I see the marks of the nails in his hands and put my finger where they were and put my hand in his side, I will not believe."

Eight days later Jesus' disciples were again together, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were closed, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and look at my hands, and put your hand here in my side. Do not be a doubter but a believer." Thomas answered him, "My Master and my God!" Jesus said to him, "You believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who believe though they have never seen me!"



Later Jesus appeared to his disciples by the Sea of Galilee, and in this way. As Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, were together with two other of his disciples, Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing." "We will go too," they said, and they set out and went on board the boat; but that night they caught nothing. At daybreak Jesus stood on the beach, though the disciples did not know that it was he.

He said to them, "Children, have you anything to eat?" They answered, "No." And he said, "Throw your net over on the right side of the boat and you will catch something." So they threw over the net, and now they could not haul it in because of the great number of fish. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Master." As soon as Simon Peter heard that it was the Master, he put on his fisherman's coat (for he was stripped for his work), and jumped into the water; but the other disciples, being only about one hundred yards from the shore, came in the small boat dragging the net full of fish.

When they landed, they saw a charcoal fire burning, and over it a fish cooking, and some bread. Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish that you have just caught." So Simon Peter went aboard the boat and hauled the net ashore filled with large fish; and although there were so many, the net was not torn. Then Jesus said to them, "Come and eat breakfast." Not one of the disciples had courage to ask, "Who are you?" for they knew that it was the Master. Jesus came and gave them the bread and also the fish. This was the third time he appeared to his disciples after he had risen from the dead.

After breakfast Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said, "Surely, Master, you know I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my lambs." Then he asked him a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" And he answered, "Surely, Master, you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Tend my sheep." Jesus said to him a third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me with all your heart?" Peter was grieved because Jesus asked a third time, "Do you love me?" And he answered, "Master, you know everything, you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep."

And Jesus said to them, "All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go you, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you; and, lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world."

Jesus showed his disciples, by many proofs, that he still lived, revealing himself to them during forty days and telling them about the Kingdom of God. When he and his disciples were together he told them not to leave Jerusalem but to wait for what the Father had promised—"the promise," he said, "of which you have heard me speak; for John baptized with water, but before many days have passed you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."

While they were together they asked him, "Master, is this the time when you are going to restore the rulership to Israel?" Jesus said to them, "It is not for you to know the time or the season which the Father has fixed by his own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses at Jerusalem, throughout all Judea and Samaria and to every part of the earth." When he had said this and while they were still looking at him, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were staring into heaven, as he went up, two men clothed in white stood beside them, who said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up into heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way as you have seen him go."

On the Day of Pentecost, as they were all together, suddenly, there came from heaven a sound like the rushing blast of a mighty wind which filled the whole house where they were seated. And they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in a strange way and to cry aloud and shout.

When this was reported a crowd gathered, astonished and perplexed, and asked one another, "What can it mean?" Others with a sneer said, "They are full of new wine!"

But Peter, together with the eleven apostles, stood up and addressed them: "Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, understand this and listen to what I say: these men are not drunk as you suppose, for it is only nine in the morning, but this is what was foretold by the prophet Joel:

"'In the last days,' God declared, 'I will pour out my Spirit on all mankind; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions.

"'And your old men shall dream dreams, Even upon my slaves and slave-girls In those days I will pour out my Spirit, And they shall prophesy.'"

"Men of Israel, hear these words: By the help of lawless men you nailed to the cross and murdered Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was proved to be from God through the deeds of healing and the wonderful acts which God performed by him among you, as you yourselves know. But God released him from the bonds of death and raised him to life, for death could not hold him. Lifted on high at God's right hand and having received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit, he has poured it upon us as you now see and hear. Let the whole nation of Israel know beyond a doubt that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."

When they heard this, their conscience troubled them, and they said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brothers, what are we to do?" Peter answered, "Say that you are sorry for your sins, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, that your sins may be forgiven; then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, for it is promised to you, and to your children, and to all in distant lands, to any and to all whom the Lord our God shall call."

With many other words he warned and urged them to save themselves from this wicked time. So those who believed what he taught were baptized; and on that day about three thousand were added to the brotherhood.

THE HEALING OF THE LAME MAN AT THE BEAUTIFUL GATE

By agreement the believers met together daily in the Temple. They had their meals from house to house, eating their food with gladness and simple-heartedness, praising God and having the good-will of all the people. Day by day God added many to the number of the saved.

One day Peter and John were on their way to the Temple for the hour of prayer at three in the afternoon. A man who had been lame from birth, and who was placed daily at what was called the Beautiful Gate of the Temple, was being carried there to beg from the people who went in. When he saw that Peter and John were about to go in, he asked them to give him something. But Peter fixed his eyes on him, and John did also, and said, "Look at us." And the man looked attentively, expecting to receive something from them. Peter said, "I have neither silver nor gold, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!" And he took him by the right hand and raised him up. And immediately his feet and his ankles received strength and he leaped up, stood on his feet, walked about and went with them into the Temple, walking, and leaping and praising God.

When the people who saw him walking about and praising God knew that he was the man who used to sit begging at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple, they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him; and as he still kept close to Peter and John, the astonished crowd rushed to them in what was called Solomon's Porch.

Then Peter said to the people: "Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this? Or why do you stare at us as though we had made him walk by some power or goodness of our own? The God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob, the God of our forefathers, has honored Jesus his servant, whom you delivered up and denied before Pilate when he had decided to let him go. But you denied the Holy and Just One and asked that a murderer be set free and put to death the One who brings life to men! But God brought him back from the dead, as we bear witness. Jesus, through faith in his name, has given strength to this man whom you see and know. Yes, it is faith in him that has made this man perfectly well in the presence of you all.

"And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. Turn then to God and live right lives that your sins may be forgiven, so that God may send you strength. After raising his Servant from the grave, God sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wickedness."

While they were speaking to the people, they were interrupted by the priests, the officer in charge of the Temple, and the Sadducees, who were angry because they were teaching the people and telling how Jesus rose from the dead. They arrested the apostles and, as it was already evening, put them in prison until the following day.

The next morning a meeting of their rulers, elders and scribes was held in Jerusalem at which the high priest Annas, and Caiaphas, John, Alexander and all the members of the high priest's family were present. They made the apostles stand before them and inquired, "By whose power and in whose name have you done this?"

Then Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders of Israel, if we are being examined this day for a good deed done to a lame man, to find out how he was healed, you and all the people of Israel should know that this man stands before you completely cured through the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified and whom God raised from the dead. He is the stone despised by you builders that has become the chief corner-stone. And salvation comes by none other, for there is no other name under heaven revealed among men through which we can be saved."

When they saw how bold Peter and John were and found out that they were uneducated and ignorant men, they were astonished but they remembered that they had been with Jesus. Ordering them to go out from the council, they said among themselves, "What are we to do with these men? All the people who live in Jerusalem know that a wonderful miracle has been done by them, and we cannot deny it. But to keep this thing from spreading any farther among the people let us stop them by threats from speaking in the future to any one in the name of Jesus." So they called them and ordered them not to teach nor speak a word in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, "Decide for yourselves whether it is right before God to obey you rather than God; for we cannot give up speaking of what we have seen and heard."

Seeing the man who had been healed standing beside them, the rulers could say nothing. So, after further threatening them, they let them go, being unable to find any reason for punishing them on account of the people, for they were all praising God for what had been done.

THE GENEROSITY OF THE EARLY CHRISTIANS

All of the believers were as one in heart and mind; and not one of them called what he had his own, but they all shared with one another. No one among them was in want, for those who owned lands or houses sold them and brought the money that came from the sale to the apostles. The money was then given to whoever needed it. Joseph, whom the apostles called Barnabas, sold his farm and brought the money to the apostles.

But a man named Ananias and his wife Sapphira sold some property, and with her approval kept back part of the price and brought only a part of it to the apostles. "Ananias," said Peter, "why has Satan put into your heart the desire to deceive the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land? While the land remained unsold, was it not your own? Even after it was sold, was not the money yours to do with as you pleased? How could you plan a thing like this? You have lied not to man but to God." When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and died; and great fear seized all who heard of it. The younger men arose, wrapped up the body, and carried it away to be buried.

About three hours later his wife came in, knowing nothing of what had taken place. Peter said to her, "Tell me, did you sell the land for so much?" And she answered, "Yes, for so much." Peter said to her, "How is it that you two agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? The men who have buried your husband are here at the door and they shall carry you out." Instantly she fell dead at his feet; so when the young men came in and found her dead, they carried her out and buried her beside her husband.

Then great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things. Many miracles and wonders were done among the people by the apostles. Even from the towns about Jerusalem crowds gathered, bringing sick people, and all were healed.

STEPHEN THE FIRST CHRISTIAN MARTYR

During these days, while the number of the disciples was rapidly increasing, the Jews who came from lands where Greek was spoken began to complain against those who were born and lived in Palestine, because their widows were neglected when the food was given out each day. Therefore the twelve apostles called together all the disciples and said, "It is not right that we should give up our preaching so as to wait on tables. Brothers, choose seven of your own number, men of good reputation, wise and spiritually-minded, whom we will put in charge of this work. But we will continue to give ourselves to prayer and to preaching the good news." This plan pleased all the disciples; so they chose Stephen, a man of strong faith and spiritual power, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, who came from Antioch but had become a Jew. These men they brought before the apostles, who after praying laid their hands upon them.

And the message of the Lord continued to spread, and the number of disciples in Jerusalem was greatly increased. A large number of the priests also accepted the faith.

Stephen, who had personal charm and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people. Some belonging to the Synagogue of the Libyans, and Jews from Cyrene, Alexandria, Cilicia, and the province of Asia began to argue with Stephen; but they were unable to get the better of him because of the wisdom and spirit with which he spoke.

Then secretly they bribed certain men to say, "We have heard him speaking blasphemous words against Moses and God." In this way they stirred up the people, the elders and the scribes, so that they seized Stephen and took him before the council. They also brought in false witnesses who said, "This man is always talking against this holy place and the law. We have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses handed down to us!"

Then all who were sitting in the council fixed their eyes on Stephen and saw that his face shone like the face of an angel. But the high priest said, "Are these charges true?" Stephen answered, "Brothers and fathers, listen. The Most High God does not live in houses made by men.

"You stubborn and evil-minded people! you always resist the Holy Spirit, as did your fathers before you. Which of the prophets did they not persecute? They also killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, whose betrayers and murderers you have become—you who received the law given through angels, and have not kept it!"

When they heard these words, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked up into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. "Look, I see heaven open," he said, "and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." But they stopped their ears and with a howl rushed at him all together. Then they threw him out of the city and stoned him. The witnesses who threw the first stones, laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. As they stoned Stephen, he prayed, "Lord, Jesus, receive my spirit!" Then he knelt down and cried aloud, "Lord, do not lay this sin to their charge!" When he had said this, he fell asleep. Certain devout men buried Stephen, mourning deeply for him.

But Saul consented to his murder. He also tried to destroy the church, entering into every house, and dragging out men and women, put them in prison.

PHILIP AND THE ETHIOPIAN

When Stephen was stoned to death a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Those who were scattered went in different directions telling the good news about Jesus.

Philip went down to the city of Samaria, where he told the people about Jesus, the Christ. And the crowds, when they saw the miracles he performed, paid attention to what he said. Many who could not walk or were lame were healed. So there was great joy in that city. Both the men and women who believed Philip, as he told the good news about the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus, were baptized.

When the apostles at Jerusalem heard that the Samaritans had believed God's message, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they came, prayed that the Samaritans might receive the Holy Spirit, for it had not yet come upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

When the apostles had told the people about Jesus and preached the word of the Lord, they went back to Jerusalem; and as they went, they told the good news in many villages of the Samaritans. But an angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Rise, and go south along the desert road from Jerusalem to Gaza." As he went on his way he met an Ethiopian who had charge of the treasures of Candace, the queen of the Ethiopians. He had gone to Jerusalem to worship and was on his way home. As the Ethiopian sat in his chariot reading from the prophet Isaiah, the Spirit said to Philip, "Go up and speak to the man in the chariot." As Philip ran up and heard him reading from the prophet Isaiah, he asked, "Do you understand what you are reading?" "How can I," said the Ethiopian, "unless there is some one to tell me what it means?" So he begged Philip to come up and sit beside him.

Now the passage of scripture that he was reading was this:

"He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, And as a lamb is dumb before the shearer, So he opened not his mouth."

The Ethiopian said to Philip, "I beg of you, tell me of whom is the prophet speaking? Of himself or of some one else?" Then Philip, taking this verse as his text, told him the good news about Jesus. As they went along, they came to some water, and the Ethiopian said, "Here is water. What prevents my being baptized?" So he ordered the chariot to stop, and both went down into the water, and Philip baptized the man. After they had come up from the water, the Spirit of the Lord sent Philip on his way, and the Ethiopian did not see him again, but went away happy. But Philip told the good news in every town until he reached Caesarea.

PETER AND THE ROMAN OFFICER

While Peter was going through the whole country, he stayed for a long time at Joppa, in the house of Simon, a tanner.

Cornelius, the captain of the Italian guard, lived in Caesarea. He was a righteous man and he and all his household worshipped God. He gave many gifts to the poor people, and prayed to God at all times.

One day, about three o'clock in the afternoon, Cornelius had a vision; and he saw an angel of God coming and saying to him, "Cornelius." Looking straight at him, although he was afraid, Cornelius said, "What is it, Lord?" The angel said to him, "Your prayers and your gifts to the poor are pleasing to God. Now send men to Joppa, and bring a certain Simon, whose other name is Peter. He is staying with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the seaside." When the angel who spoke to him had gone away, Cornelius called two of his household servants, and a trusted soldier who constantly waited on him. After he had explained everything to them, he sent them to Joppa.

On the next day, about noon, as they were on their way, and were coming near to Joppa, Peter went up to the housetop to pray. While he was praying, the men who were sent by Cornelius, having found the way to Simon's house, stood before the gate, and called out to ask whether Simon, whose other name was Peter, was staying there. The Spirit said to Peter, "See, three men are looking for you. Rise and go down, and do not hesitate to go with them; for I have sent them." So Peter went down to the men and said, "I am the man you are looking for; what do you want?" They said, "Cornelius, a captain of the guard, a righteous man and one who worships God and is well spoken of by all the Jews, was told by a holy angel to send for you and ask you to come to his house, that he may hear what you have to say." So Peter invited them in and they stayed all night.

The next day he rose and went with them, and some of the disciples from Joppa went with him. The next day after that, they reached Caesarea. Cornelius was waiting for them, having called together his relatives and his near friends. When Peter came in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshipped him. But Peter said, "Stand up, I am only a man, like you." After he had talked with him, he went in, and found many people there. Then Cornelius said, "Just four days ago, in the afternoon, I was praying in my house, when a man stood before me in bright clothing, and said, 'Cornelius, your prayer is heard, and your gifts to the poor are pleasing to God. Send therefore to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose other name is Peter; he is staying in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the seaside.' So I sent to you at once; and you have done well in coming. Now therefore we are all here in the presence of God, to listen to whatever the Lord has commanded you to say."

Peter said, "I see, truly, that God shows no partiality; but in every nation, the man who reveres him, and does what is right, is pleasing to him."

While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit filled all those who heard the word. And the Jewish disciples who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out on those who were not Jews. For the Jews heard them shout and praise God. Then Peter said, "Can any one refuse to baptize those who, as well as we, have received the Holy Spirit?" And he commanded that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they begged him to stay with them several days.

When Peter came up to Jerusalem, the Jewish followers of Jesus found fault with him for preaching to those who were not Jews. But Peter explained the matter to them, saying, "I was in the city of Joppa praying; and while I was praying, three men stood before the house in which we were staying, having been sent to me from Caesarea. And the Spirit told me to go with them, even though they were not Jews. These six brothers here went with me also; and we went into the man's house. He told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house, and saying, 'Send to Joppa, and bring Simon, whose other name is Peter, who shall tell you certain things through which you and your whole family shall be saved.' As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came upon them, even as on us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, 'John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.' If then God gave to them the like gift as he gave also to us, when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I, that I could stand against God?" When they heard these things, they stopped finding fault, and praised God, saying, "Then also to those who are not Jews, God has given, that they may turn from their wicked deeds and live."

PETER'S ESCAPE FROM PRISON

Now about that time Herod, the king, began to persecute the members of the church; and he killed James, the brother of John, with the sword. When Herod saw that it pleased the Jews, he seized Peter also. This was during the feast of the unleavened bread. Therefore when he arrested Peter, he put him in prison, and gave him into the keeping of four bands of four soldiers each. And he planned to bring him out to the people after the Passover.

So Peter was kept in prison; but the members of the church prayed earnestly to God for him. On the very night before the day on which Herod meant to bring him up for trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, fastened to them with two chains. Watchmen were also on guard at the doors. All at once an angel of the Lord stood by him and a light shone in the cell. And he struck Peter on the side and awoke him, saying, "Get up quickly." And his chains fell off his hands. The angel said to him, "Put on your belt and your sandals." And Peter did so. The angel said to him, "Throw your coat around you, and follow me." So Peter went out with him; and he did not know that what had been done by the angel was really true, but he thought he was dreaming. They went past the first and the second guards, and came to the iron gate that leads into the city; and it opened to them of itself. They went out, and passed on through one street; and all at once the angel left him. When Peter found himself alone, he said, "Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent his angel, and saved me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jews were expecting he would do to me." And after he had thought what to do, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark. Now many people had gathered together there for prayer. When he knocked at the door a girl named Rhoda came to answer. And hearing Peter's voice, she was so glad that she forgot to open the door, but ran in, and told that Peter was standing outside. They said to her, "You are out of your mind." But she insisted that it was so. They said, "It is his angel." But Peter kept on knocking: and when they opened the door and saw him, they were amazed. But he motioned to them with the hand to be silent, and told them how the Lord had brought him out of prison. And he said, "Go and tell James and the other brothers." Then he left the house and went to another place. Now as soon as it was morning, there was great excitement among the soldiers, as to what had become of Peter. After Herod had searched for him, and had failed to find him, he questioned the guards, and commanded that they should be executed.

PAUL'S ACCOUNT OF WHAT HE SAW AND HEARD ON HIS WAY TO DAMASCUS

I am a Jew, born at Tarsus in Cilicia, but I was brought up in Jerusalem, educated as a disciple of Gamaliel in the strict way laid down in the laws received from our fathers, and devoted to God, as you all are.

You know what I did in the past among the Jews. You know how bitterly I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it and how in my zeal for the laws and customs handed down from my forefathers I did more than any of my fellow countrymen. I indeed believed that it was my duty to do all in my power to oppose the cause of Jesus of Nazareth. This I did in Jerusalem. With authority from the high priests, I put many of Jesus' followers in prison. When they were put to death, I voted against them. In all the synagogues I often punished them and tried to make them speak against the name of Jesus, and in my insane fury I followed them even to distant cities.

When I was travelling to Damascus on this business, with written authority from the high priests, I saw, on the road in the middle of the day, a light from heaven, more dazzling than the glare of the sun, shining around me and those who were travelling with me. We fell to the ground, and I heard a voice say to me in Hebrew, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads." I asked, "Who art thou, Lord?" and the Lord answered, "I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. Rise and stand on your feet, for I have appeared to you to appoint you to be my servant and a witness to what you have seen and to the things that I will show you. I chose you from the Jews and the other peoples to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of their sins and a place among those who have given themselves to me because they believe in me."

When the God, who had set me apart even from my birth and called me by his love, chose to reveal his Son in me that I might tell to other races the good news about him, I at once went into Arabia instead of talking with any one else or going up to Jerusalem to see those who had been apostles before me. When I came back I preached first to those at Damascus. There the governor, appointed by King Aretas, put guards in the city to arrest me, but I was lowered in a basket through a window in the wall and so escaped from their hands.

After three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Peter and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw no other apostle except James the brother of Jesus.

THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH AT ANTIOCH

The disciples who had been scattered by the persecution which came after the killing of Stephen went to Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, but told about Jesus only to Jews. Some of them, citizens of Cyprus and Cyrene, when they reached Antioch also told the good news about the Lord Jesus to the Greeks. The power of the Lord was with them, and a large number believed and turned to him.

When the news of this reached the church in Jerusalem, they sent Barnabas to Antioch. After he saw the proofs of God's goodness, he was very glad and urged all to remain loyal to the Lord; and many more believed.

Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Paul, whose name had been Saul. When he had found him, he brought him to Antioch, and for a whole year they were with the church there and taught a large number of people. It was at Antioch also that the disciples were first called Christians.

During these days some prophets came to Antioch from Jerusalem. One of them, Agabus, under the influence of the Spirit, told that a severe famine would come all through that part of the world, and this famine came when Claudius was emperor. Therefore, the disciples, each as he was able, sent something to help the brothers living in Judea. They sent their gifts to the elders by Barnabas and Paul. After Barnabas and Paul had done that for which they were sent, they returned from Jerusalem, bringing with them John, who was also called Mark.

Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and preachers: Barnabas, Symeon (called Niger), and Lucius the Cyrenean, besides Manean (a childhood friend of Herod the ruler), and Paul. As they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Paul for the work to which I have called them." Then when they had fasted and prayed, they gave them their blessing and sent them on their way.

PAUL AND BARNABAS IN FOREIGN LANDS

Paul and Barnabas, sent by the Holy Spirit, went to Seleucia and from there sailed to Cyprus. When they came to Salamis, they, with Mark as their helper, told God's message in the Jewish synagogue.

When they had gone over the whole island as far as Paphos, they set sail, and Paul and his companions came to Perga in Pamphylia. There Mark left them to return to Jerusalem, but they went on to Antioch. On the Sabbath they went into the synagogue and sat down. After the reading of the law and the prophets the men in charge of the synagogue service sent word to them, "Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, say it." So Paul stood up and motioning with his hand said, "Listen, men of Israel and you who worship God. The God of this people Israel chose our fathers. While they were in Egypt he made them a great people, and then with wonderful signs of his power he led them out of that land. After destroying seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them that land to have as their own and later made David their king. From David's family God brought to Israel, as he had promised, a Saviour, Jesus.

"Brothers, sons of Abraham's race, and all among you who worship God, to us has been sent this saving message. The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not believe Jesus, and though they could find no reason why he should be killed, they asked Pilate to put him to death. But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he was seen by those who had come with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to the people. So we bring you the good news that God, by raising Jesus from the dead, has fulfilled for our children the promise made to our fathers."

As Paul and Barnabas were going out, the people begged that this be repeated to them on the following Sabbath. After the congregation broke up, many of the Jews and religious Greeks followed Paul and Barnabas, who spoke to them, urging them through God's help to remain loyal.

On the next Sabbath nearly all the people of the city came to hear the message of the Lord. But when the Jews saw the crowd, they were jealous and began to contradict what Paul said, and to insult him. But Paul and Barnabas spoke out fearlessly and said, "It was necessary that God's message should be spoken first to you; but since you will not hear it and prove yourselves unworthy of eternal life, here and now we turn to those who are not Jews. For this is the Lord's command to us: 'I have set you as a light to other races, to bring salvation to the ends of the earth.'"

When those who were not Jews heard this, they were glad and gave thanks for God's message; and as many as were ordained to receive eternal life believed, and God's message was carried far and wide throughout the country. But the Jews, with the help of women of high rank and the leading men in the city, started a persecution against Paul and Barnabas and drove them from the city. So the apostles shook the dust from their feet as a protest against them, and went on to Iconium. The new disciples, however, were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.

At Iconium, Paul and Barnabas went into the Jewish synagogue and spoke, so that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed. But the Jews who did not believe stirred up the other races and poisoned their minds against the apostles. The people of the town were divided, some being on the side of the Jews and others on the side of the apostles. An attempt was made both by the other races and by the Jews, with the help of their rulers, to attack and stone the apostles; but they learned of it and escaped to the towns of Lystra and Derbe, and there they continued to preach the good news.

At Lystra there was a man who could not move his feet, who had been lame from his birth and had never walked. As this man listened to Paul's preaching, the apostle fixed his eyes on him and, seeing that he had faith enough to make him well, said in a loud voice, "Stand up on your feet." And the man sprang up and began to walk. When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they shouted in their language, "The gods have come down to us in the form of men!" Barnabas they called "Zeus," and Paul "Hermes," because he was the chief speaker. The priests of the temple of Zeus, which stood in front of the town, brought oxen and wreaths to the gates, so as to join the crowds in offering sacrifice to them.

But when Barnabas and Paul heard this, they tore their clothes and rushed into the crowd, shouting, "Men, why are you doing this? We are but men like yourselves, and are bringing you the good news so that you may turn from these idols and worship the living God who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all that is in them. In past ages he allowed all nations to worship as they pleased; yet as the bountiful Giver he did not leave himself without a witness, for he gives you rain from heaven and fruitful seasons and makes your hearts happy with food and good cheer." Yet even with these words they could hardly keep the crowd from sacrificing to them.

But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won over the crowds, who stoned Paul, and then, believing him dead, dragged him out of the city. However, when the disciples had gathered about him, he got up and went into the city.

The next day he went with Barnabas to Derbe. After they had preached the good news to that city and had won many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, and encouraged the disciples urging them to be true to the faith. Then they passed through Pisidia and came to Pamphylia, and after preaching in Perga, they went down to Attaleia. From there they set sail for Antioch.

When they reached Antioch, they called together the members of the church and told everything that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith to those who were not Jews. And they stayed there a long time with the disciples.

WHY PAUL WENT TO MACEDONIA

After they had stayed at Antioch for some time, Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us return and visit the brothers in all the cities where we have told the good news from the Lord, and see how they are getting on." Barnabas wished to take Mark with them, but Paul did not think it wise to take with them one who had deserted them in Pamphylia instead of going on with them to work in Pisidia. So they parted company, and Barnabas took Mark with him to Cyprus. Paul chose Silas and went away, commended by the brothers to the gracious care of the Lord. He went through Syria and Cilicia, encouraging the churches.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8     Next Part
Home - Random Browse